I was honored to hear Carmen Maria Machado read aloud a new short story from her upcoming short story collection on campus a few weeks ago. Many of you may have read her collection of short stories “Her Body and Other Parties” and if you haven’t, go buy it. I’d gotten my copy a few days earlier at Womrath Bookstore (cute indie bookstore in Bronxville, go there too) despite having read many of her works in the past. She is a modern feminist writer and as the title of her collection implies, she often works in the realm of female-driven body horror.
As far as the literary world is concerned, she is a celebrity, a darling of the short story, making her an icon in small circles. Sarah Lawrence College on a Wednesday night was one of those small circles.
She came on stage to present and spoke a bit about her upcoming work, admitting that she needs to work on her new material but has been putting it off, something every writer in the room could relate to. Somedays, I am writing a novel and other days I am “writing a novel.” It is all but theoretical at times.
Her reading was the perfect blend of seriousness and comedy that kept the audience enthralled for about an hour, something that she made look easy. As always with these things, the room was opened up to a brief Q & A, comprised of three different questions that had to do with, among other things, the current state and future of queer fiction. The good news is that she is optimistic about the future.
Afterwards, she signed my personal copy of “Her Body and Other Parties,” a genre-redefining work of speculative fiction, filled with short stories that have been staples of my creative writing classes for years now. I was happy to tell her that I’ve been reading her works for a few years at this point, inevitably encountering them in each of my writing classes. Funnily enough, I was just assigned her short story “Inventory” for my creative writing class this week. I will be rereading it in my new signed copy of “Her Body and Other Parties.”
And rest assured to any Machado fans out there: her new work kills.
The Tragic Queen,